Learning from California

S S Writes


Global anti-smoking campaign has been launched by the World Health Organization aimed at exposing big tobacco companies’ use of deception and lies in their worldwide advertising. ‘The tobacco industry has always had a wanton disregard for the truth; they’ve gotten away with it for decades in the United States and are still away with it in other countries. The impact of their lies is more death, disease and suffering.’


Tobacco kills 11,000 people a day worldwide. By 2020, it will kill 10 million people a year, 70% of them in the developing world.


Developing countries are now the target of the tobacco industry’s expanding assault on global public health, says WHO.


WHO’s multi-pronged global campaign will build on hard evidence of what works in tobacco control. It will identify and disseminate success stories like California, where a combination of community action and aggressive counter-advertising has resulted in life-and money-saving public health policies.

There are 700,000 fewer adult smokers. Lung and bronchus cancer rates have been reduced by more than 14%. For every dollar spent on tobacco control, there is a saving of $3 in the cost of direct medical services for illness caused by smoking in California.


Learning from California’s successful counter-advertising campaigns and community-based actions, the campaign will make the case for health, enhance population health literacy, promote healthy choices, and most importantly, influence public policy so that robust tobacco control measures and strict regulation of the tobacco industry become a global reality.


In early November, delegations from over 100 countries met in Geneva to begin work on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which WHO describes as the world’s first public health treaty. Strong global action against tobacco could complement national legislation.


At the same time, globalization of marketing trade in tobacco products means that all countries need to take strong action individually and together if their populations are to become tobacco-free in the long run.